Mariners going with James Paxton’s college teammate for Tuesday start

Aug 14, 2017, 11:36 PM | Updated: Aug 15, 2017, 10:09 am
Andrew Albers played college ball at Kentucky, where he was once a guide for a recruit named James ...
Andrew Albers played college ball at Kentucky, where he was once a guide for a recruit named James Paxton. Now they're reunited in the Mariners' rotation. (AP)

The Mariners have replaced “TBD” on the pitching probables Tuesday with Andrew Albers. Acquired last week for cash in a deal with the Braves, Albers will become the 37th player to throw a pitch for the Mariners this season. The 31-year-old lefty from North Battleford, Saskatchewan was enjoying a very good season with Triple-A Gwinnett when he got the news he was headed to Seattle.

“The last few days have been a little bit of a whirlwind but I am excited to be over here and have this opportunity and I am really looking forward to it,” he said.

Albers will take what would have been James Paxton’s start before he suffered a pectoral injury. It just so happens that Paxton was the one familiar face in the clubhouse for Albers, who played college ball at the University of Kentucky, Paxton’s alma mater.

“I actually had him as a recruit when he took his official visit at UK,” Albers said. “Certainly having that guy around and watching that develop has been a lot of fun.”

Paxton believes his former guide will be a good addition to the clubhouse.

“He was the player who showed me around,” Paxton said. “He’s a great guy, one of those A-plus character guys. Just really competes, plays hard and he’s good at what he does. He’ll be a great addition to the to team here and I think he’ll be able to provide some leadership to the pitchers also. He’s just that kind of guy.”

The Paxton we see now looks nothing like the Paxton that reported to Lexington, Ky. his freshman year. By his own description, Paxton was three or four inches shorter, 40 pounds lighter and possessed a fastball that topped out at 88 mph on a good day.

“He was really young his freshman year,” Albers remembered. “It just speaks to the work ethic James had, the kind of shape he got himself in, the strength he put on being able to repeat the delivery the way he did. By the time he left, it was pretty incredible. From where he came as a freshman to when he left was just a testament to how hard he works. It was just phenomenal.”

While it was fun to catch up, Albers has a job to do Tuesday. He looks to give his new team innings, and hopefully more.

“I’m not a guy that is going to overpower guys but I am going to compete,” he said when asked for a self scout. “Hopefully throw strikes and that’s the thing with my game. I have got to go out and command the baseball and go from there, and if I can do that, I have a chance to be success.”


-Paxton is scheduled to see team doctors Tuesday to assess where he is in his recovery from the pectoral strain. Paxton said that he is feeling improvement in the area and is hopeful he will get good news from the doctor.

-The Mariners will have to make a move to get Albers on the 25-man roster and there is a good chance we see multiple moves as Casey Lawrence pitched four innings Monday night. Sam Gaviglio was scheduled to pitch in relief for the Rainiers Monday and did not, so he would be a good bet to jump on the Tacoma shuttle Tuesday.

-Thyago Vieira made his big-league debut Monday night, and what a debut it was. Threw his final warmup pitch to the backstop, hard. First pitch he threw came in to Chris Davis at 98 mph and right back at him head level. He thankfully got the glove up and made the catch. He then struck out Joey Rickard on a slider and got a grounder to short to retire Caleb Joseph. A 1-2-3 first inning with the fastball topping out at 100.9 mph.

Vieira became the fourth Brazilian-born player to appear in the Major Leagues, the second pitcher.

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Mariners going with James Paxton’s college teammate for Tuesday start